Courtyard By Marriott New York City Manhattan Fifth Avenue Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Gramercy and Murray Hill, Manhattan, New York City

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Pros

Cons

Bottom Line

Located right by Bryant Park and a 10-minute walk from Times Square, this 181-room Marriott has a great location, a small fitness center, and free Wi-Fi. Though clean, rooms are on the small side and have basic furnishings and flimsy bedding -- not a great pick for the price.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A 181-room hotel on 30 floors, this Courtyard is convenient and clean but nothing spectacular.

Construction on the lobby's second floor
Construction on the lobby's second floor

Centrally located right by Bryant Park, Times Square, and midtown offices, the Courtyard by Marriott is a clean, comfortable place to crash. Like other mid-ange chain hotels, it attracts a mix of traveling businessmen and leisure travelers, but with its small lobby and typical design, it's not a place where people tend to hang out.

You can get much more from the larger Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square, including a solid gym and a revolving rooftop bar. The big difference is that the Marquis is part of Times Square's nonstop action, while the Courtyard is about a 10-minute walk away, in a less bustling area.

For similar features at a typically better price, check out the Holiday Inn at Sixth Avenue.

 Service

Inconsistent service -- doting service is not the draw here.

Bellman at the entrance
Bellman at the entrance

Check-in was easy and efficient, though the receptionists weren't especially friendly. The bell stand is wedged in a corner beyond the front doors. It was hard to get to the bellman, especially since a large group and all their luggage were taking up most of the entrance area when I arrived.

A few TripAdvisor reviewers have complained about rude service, but others have raved about the staff. It seems the staff is inconsistent, at best, with how it treats guests.

 Location

Near scenic Bryant Park and Fifth Avenue shopping.

Though "Fifth Avenue" (New York's famous shopping strip) is attached to the hotel's name, the hotel isn't located exactly on Fifth Avenue. It's actually on 40th Street, two buildings east. Because the windows aren't soundproofed well, expect some street noise.

The nearest subway station is around the corner at Bryant Park, serving the B, D, F, V, and 7 lines. Grand Central Terminal is two blocks northeast; it serves the 4, 5, and 6 lines, which run along the east side of Manhattan.

The hotel is close to many landmarks, most notably the New York Public Library, with its proud lion statues and sprawling steps. Behind those hallowed halls is Bryant Park. Seasonal events such as outdoor film screenings during the summer and an ice skating rink during the winter draw hordes of locals as well as tourists.

Broadway shows, bright lights, and the Naked Cowboy of Times Square are just a five-minute walk west. The hotel is about 10 minutes away from the bustle of Times Square, and about a 15- to 20-minute walk to any theater.

And of course, there is shopping. BCBG by Max Azria is the closest boutique, but it's followed by more affordable labels like Zara and H&M. Walk the length of Fifth Avenue for your fashion fix. Madison Avenue is on the other side of the hotel, but the trendy boutiques begin about 10 blocks north, on 50th Street and up.

There is a parking lot on the block. Valet parking is available to guests for $45 per 24 hours. For other parking options, check out Best Parking.

 Airport Transportation

30 to 90 minutes from three airports.

New York City has three nearby airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting into town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 plus tolls and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.

Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. Public transit is also available for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairways.

For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.

 Rooms

Tiny rooms with basic bedding, some street noise, and bland design, at least by NYC standards.

The Guestroom
The Guestroom

At a mere 145 square feet, the standard queen guest rooms are smaller than even most New York boutique hotel rooms. I was assigned a handicapped room, No. 403, which is still a bit on the small side at 192 square feet.

The only difference between the king and double guest rooms is the type of bed it comes with (king-size and two double beds, respectively). The suite (205 square feet) comes with a king-size bed and a pullout sofa bed -- but even this room isn't anything spectacular. (It's about the same size as the standard room in the similarly priced Marriott Marquis.)

The queen-size beds have very basic bedding -- thin white sheets, a flimsy comforter, and mediocre pillows. The colorful runner placed at the end of the bed doesn't help make the bed more exciting or appealing. Ironically, a flyer on the desk advertises bedding and linens for sale from the Marriott.

Noise is a problem with lower-level street-facing rooms, but this is the case in most midtown hotels. There's constant traffic, just outside the window. This really can't be helped on the lower-level rooms, so the hotel provides something to mask the outside noise. The Sleep Mate Conditioner "creates a consistent smooth sound of rushing air." If you want to know what this sounds like, turn on a hair dryer. Still, it's better than sporadic honking.

The issue of noise isn't limited to the outside. The walls are very thin, and it was even more disruptive to hear the elevator ding, neighbors' doors opening and closing, and vacuum cleaning in the hallways. Not surprisingly, some TripAdvisor reviewers have mentioned this as a problem. Tip: Do not accept a room on the 16th or 25th floor, as they have noisy ice machines in the hallways.

The hotel advertises its seven rooms per floor as a feature (presumably for less noise and more space), but the structure of the building makes this a disadvantage. Basically, there are two choices in picking a room: noisy and street-side or quieter but viewless. The latter is preferable, but expect to face a dreary building wall.

My room had a view of the Mid-Manhattan Public Library, which is part of the New York Public Library. It wasn't the most thrilling view, but it was a serene sight to watch people absorbed in books, surrounded by more books.

TVs come with 45 cable channels, including HBO, ESPN, and Discovery Channel. I tried to drown out the noise outside by turning on the TV, only to hear a high-pitched whirring sound coming from it. It was even worse than listening to screeching car horns.

There was free iBahn Internet in the room. From my room, the wireless connection was weak. Fortunately, an Ethernet cable on the desk provided high-speed Internet access. Power outlets are located conveniently above the table.

No minibar, so head to Salmon River downstairs for a drink fix. Or you can make coffee in the room with the provided coffeemaker and Barista coffee packets. Room service is available from Salmon River. There's a $3 service charge and a 17 percent gratuity in addition to New York sales tax.

The bathrooms are very clean, almost too clean -- the wall-to-wall white tiles make it look sterile, like a hospital bathroom. At least the space is a decent size, not the type where you can shower and use the toilet at the same time. Bath products are from Paul Mitchell, and they include shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap, and lotion.

 Features

Free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour gym, and coffee all day.

24-hour Fitness Center
24-hour Fitness Center

A basic fitness center is available 24 hours a day, accessible with the room card. The gym has all of four machines (two treadmills, an elliptical, and a cycling machine), free weights, a CD player and a watercooler. Masking the smell of sweat, the fitness center overcompensates with an air freshener that sprays an overpowering bubblegum scent every few minutes. The hotel would have done better following the lead of the less expensive Library Hotel nearby and giving out complimentary passes for a large chain like the New York Sports Club on 41st Street and Third Avenue (a five-minute walk away).

Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, but the Ethernet cable located in every room has a stronger connection. The business center has three desktop PCs and a printer. One computer wasn't working during my stay, but there was no line to use the others.

Free, mediocre coffee is available all day from the Maxwell House coffee machine beside the business center. For fresh ice, head to the fifth, 16th, or 25th floor for an ice machine.

There is no dedicated concierge, but the front desk can help with making theater and tour arrangements as well as restaurant recommendations. USA Today is delivered to every room on weekdays, and copies are also available in the lobby, along with issues of Newsweek.

 Family

Standard rooms are very small, so families will have to upgrade. There's nothing kid-friendly at the hotel, but it's in a very convenient location.

Pull-out sofa in the Suite
Pull-out sofa in the Suite

Families of four can be accommodated in two ways: in a double guestroom (192 square feet), which has two double beds, or in a suite (205 square feet), which comes with one king-size bed and a pullout sofa bed (though there's no private bedroom). Cribs are complimentary, but the hotel doesn't have very many of them. Make your request early. Same goes for rollaway beds. Some standard rooms, like the one I got, have enough space for a rollaway bed. Ask for a room in the 03 series.

Salmon River, the hotel restaurant, doesn't have kid-friendly food unless your kids are fans of seafood. In case your kids won't stop asking for french fries, McDonald's is right around the corner. Also, Cafe Charlie next door has a wide selection of food, including sandwiches and pastas.

There are a few places around the neighborhood that kids will love. In the winter, Bryant Park -- typically a hangout for midtown office workers -- has a wonderful ice skating rink called the Pond. Getting on the ice is free, but there's a rental charge for ice skates. In the summer, Bryant Park features free musical performances and film screenings. For more information, go here.

The hotel is a 10-minute walk from Times Square, where kids can enjoy Broadway musicals like Shrek or The Little Mermaid.

 Cleanliness

Clean rooms and a recently renovated lobby.

Lobby's shiny marble floors
Lobby's shiny marble floors

The lobby's shiny marble tiles and spotless lacquered wood set the tone for this mostly clean, smoke-free hotel.

Rooms are tidy and neat, and the fixtures have held up well since the rooms were renovated in 2005. The bathroom has spotless white tiles that look sterile.

The only thing that didn't look like it had been cleaned in a while was the window shade -- it had dirt stains and felt grimy to the touch. Also, it looked like someone had enjoyed a pack of potato chips while on the swivel chair and housekeeping had missed the crumbly evidence. (Given the chair's orange strips, though, the chips were pretty easy to miss).

 Food

Plenty of variety in terms of room service, plus fresh seafood next door.

Salmon dish at Salmon River Restaurant
Salmon dish at Salmon River Restaurant

The restaurant beside the hotel, Salmon River, cooks one fish well (guess which one). I ignored the house specialty and opted for the striped bass ($26). It wasn't bad but wasn't spectacular either. My dinner companion ordered the salmon ($24), cooked over a cedar plank and glazed with maple tamarind. I felt like an idiot after sampling his dish.

Salmon River has made a name for itself as a good seafood restaurant. Though located within the hotel building, it is its own destination, at least for locals. New York magazine gave it a favorable review. The restaurant also offers room service.

Breakfast is not included with the stay (unlike at the nearby Library Hotel, which offers a free continental breakfast), but you can get a discount voucher at the front desk for $9.50 for Salmon River's buffet breakfast (normally $17). Buffet options include eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, bagels, croissants, cereal, and a selection of juices.

Food delivery is also available from eateries near the hotel. Cafe Charlie serves salads, sandwiches, pastas, and wraps. It's open 24 hours and will deliver day or night. For Italian food, Fagiolini also delivers directly to the room. Entrees average $12, and there is a $15 minimum delivery charge. Yelp reviewers agree that the food is hearty and tasty. And if you can't be bothered with the delivery, McDonald's is down the street, on the corner of 40th Street and Madison Avenue.

For a fancy meal, take a 10-minute walk to Bar Breton on Fifth Avenue between 28th and 29th streets. Time Out New York describes it as a "casual but quaint eatery" and recommends the duck confit salad. For more dining options, go to Citysearch or Chowhound for listings and reviews of restaurants around Bryant Park.

 Bottom Line

Located right by Bryant Park and a 10-minute walk from Times Square, this 181-room Marriott has a great location, a small fitness center, and free Wi-Fi. Though clean, rooms are on the small side and have basic furnishings and flimsy bedding -- not a great pick for the price.

Things You Should Know About Courtyard By Marriott New York City Manhattan Fifth Avenue

Address

  • 3 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Courtyard Fifth Avenue
  • Courtyard New York City
  • Courtyard New York Manhattan/Fifth Avenue
  • New York City Courtyard
  • New York City Marriott

Room Types

  • One Bedroom Two Room Suite
  • One King Bed Guest Room
  • One Queen Bed Guest Room
  • Two Double Beds Guest Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 181
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Gramercy and Murray Hill, Manhattan
Address: 3 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016
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